Valinomycin and salinomycin-Na, 2 ionophorous antibiotics, exhibited in vitro antibabesial activities against Babesia gibsoni that infected normal canine erythrocytes containing low potassium (LK) and high sodium concentrations, i.e., LK erythrocytes, which completely lack Na,K-ATPase activity. The level of parasitemia of B. gibsoni was significantly decreased when the parasites were incubated in culture medium containing either 10−1 ng/ml valinomycin or 102 ng/ml salinomycin-Na for 24 hr. Four-hour incubation in the culture medium containing 5 µg/ml salinomycin-Na led to the destruction of most parasites. In contrast, when the parasites infected canine erythrocytes containing high potassium (HK) and low sodium concentrations, i.e., HK erythrocytes, the in vitro antibabesial activities of both ionophorous antibiotics seemed to be weakened, apparently due to the protection by the host cells. Therefore, differential influences of ionophorous antibiotics on LK and HK erythrocytes were observed. In LK erythrocytes, the intracellular concentrations of potassium, sodium, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) were not modified, and hemolysis was not observed after incubation in the medium containing each ionophorous antibiotic. These results suggested that these ionophorous antibiotics did not affect cells without Na,K-ATPase, and directly affected B. gibsoni. In HK erythrocytes, the ionophorous antibiotics increased the intracellular sodium concentration, and decreased the intracellular potassium and ATP concentrations, causing obvious hemolysis. Additionally, the decrease of the intracellular ATP concentration and the hemolysis in HK erythrocytes caused by valinomycin disappeared when the activity of Na,K-ATPase was inhibited by ouabain. These results indicate that modification of the intracellular cation concentrations by the ionophorous antibiotics led to the activation of Na,K-ATPase and increased consumption of intracellular ATP, and that the depletion of intracellular ATP resulted in hemolysis in HK erythrocytes. Moreover, the antibabesial activity of valinomycin disappeared when B. gibsoni in LK erythrocytes were incubated in culture media containing high potassium concentrations. This showed that the intracellular cation concentration in the parasites was not modified in those media and would remain the same.

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